Husker head football coach Scott Frost went on Sports Nightly Tuesday night to give a brief update on what’s going on inside his program. Though the talk opened with some conversation about ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary—Frost is glued to his TV like the rest of the country—they covered a good deal of ground.
Here are the highlights.
>> Unless the Big Ten kicks the can further down the road, June 1 is the current target date for resuming athletic activities. Nebraska would be able to bring its team back to campus. Frost said the models currently being discussed for a training camp feature anywhere from four to six weeks. “I think that’s possible,” he said, “(but) I don’t think it’s ideal.”
“There’s a lot of work that goes into getting guys physically and mentally ready to play football. As much as we can be doing right now, we’re going to try and do so that we’re more ready than other people. I think we’ve been doing a good job with that.”
The important piece of the equation for Frost is finding a way to bring student-athletes back to campus without risking infection, though that might prove challenging. The California State University system announced Tuesday it would not be having in-person classes in the fall at any of its 23 universities, including San Jose State, Fresno State and San Diego State, all of which boast FBS football programs. Many believe student-athletes wouldn’t come back to campus unless the rest of the student population does as well.
UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green told members of the university several weeks ago that Nebraska’s plan for the Lincoln campus is to re-open to students for the fall.
“I just think there’s a lot of questions that still have to be answered,” Frost said.
Fortunately, there’s time to do so. Nebraska missed out on spring practices but so did everyone else. Everyone has lost summer workouts as well. Though a four-week ramp-up before a season isn’t something most—if any—coaches would want, it would still lead to football.
Count Frost among those who believe that’s essential.
"There's more at stake than (football),” he said. “There's a bunch of businesses around town where I've talked to the owners and they probably wouldn't flourish or make it without home football games in Lincoln this fall. A lot of their revenue comes off of that.
“I'm also a little concerned about the other sports at the university and their ability to continue if we take a major budget hit and don't have home football games.”
For the last fiscal year, the athletic department lost $24 million on the non-football and men’s basketball sports. The university still posted $12.1 million in profit, but football generated $96.1 million of the $136.2 million in revenue.
“There's a lot at stake and riding on this besides people wanting to play football,” Frost said, “and I think it's important that we find a way to get it up and running so we have a way to support all those things.”
>> Nebraska is expecting to take a smaller class in the 2021 cycle, Frost said. So far, the class only has seven commits, but Nebraska’s senior class for the upcoming season is only 14-deep. This is a young roster. At 81 scholarships currently, Nebraska has walk-ons Isaac Gifford and Ty Hahn to put on scholarship at one point or another.
“We’re in a position this year where we’re getting a lot done, but we’re going to have to sign a smaller class this year, so we kind of have to be deliberate about where and when,” he said.
>> Nebraska’s new staff hires this offseason have all officially made their way to Lincoln, according to Frost. Outside linebacker coach Mike Dawson had quite the ride getting here, though.
“He was in New Jersey, where this hasn’t been as easy to deal with, and I think he and his family were quarantined in a house for, I want to say, six weeks without leaving the house,” Frost said. “He was anxious to get back to Nebraska.”
>> With his team scattered, Frost’s staff has been doing what they can to send everyone workout plans.
“I think we're handling that as well as anybody,” Frost said. “I'm really confident in our guys’ conditioning right now and the fact that they've continued to be able to get work done. Obviously, that's a little bit easier here in Lincoln because this hasn't been as bad in Nebraska as some places. But we have an idea of what every single one of our guys is doing, where they're doing it, who they are, who they're in contact with.
“For the kids that stayed in town, we know what's going on with them. For the kids back home, we're trying to help them find solutions to stay in shape. I think our kids will come back and practice for sure when the time is right. Especially if everything opens up on June 1, that will give us plenty of time to get ready for a camp.”
>> “It’s hard to win games in the Big Ten with two draft picks in two years.”
That one line is probably going to be the one that grabs headlines going forward. Nebraska has had two draft picks since Frost took over the team; both of them came on Day Three of the most recent NFL Draft. Khalil Davis went to the Tampa Bay Bucs and Carlos Davis went to the Steelers.
“We need more guys getting drafted from here,” Frost said. “That starts with recruiting. I feel like a lot of the kids that we’ve recruited over the last two cycles are going to be the type of players that have a chance to do that someday. We do a great job of developing talent once it's here and helping kids become all they can be and I know that’s going to lead to more draft picks.”
>> On Michael Jordan and his competitive spirit, a major through-line so far in The Last Dance, Frost had a helluva line: “Michael was the ultimate leader. He had friends, but you go to movies with good friends, you go to battle with good teammates.”
“This is a great reminder to me how much of a competitor he was,” Frost said. “One of the things we talk about (with regards to) being a team leader with our team is not being afraid to tell other people when they need to do better. We live in an age where we’re so careful about what we say that sometimes leaders are afraid to tell someone else they need to work harder.”